How 'The Walking Dead' Keeps Glenn Alive
"We were all strangers who would've just passed each other on the street before the world ended. Now we mean everything to each other."
as horror, but it\'s also serious, earth-shattering human drama. More than anything, season eight is confirmation. In 2017, the post-apocalyptic series did away with the horror show aspect — the zombies — more than in any other. The threats were largely human-based thanks to Negan and the Saviors.
It was Negan who, way back in episode one last October, killed the heart of
— the baseball capped kid, Glenn Rhee. Glenn never left anyone behind. He was stubborn about it. And his morality is why the show\'s most-desired female, Maggie, fell for him, married him, and then spent much of this season mourning him.
is the most-watched cable series in the U.S. and that means millions of viewers. When Glenn was killed, millions mourned with Maggie and the other Survivors.
What we didn\'t know, however, was that Glenn was never really dead.
The season eight finale ended with one of the most perfectly-written moments of television this year. In a quiet montage that closes the show, Rick and Maggie talk in voice-over as the camera scans the aftermath of what just transpired in Alexandria. Rick tells her she made the right decision to come help them, something Maggie grappled with at the beginning of the episode. Should she put the lives of the people at Hilltop on the line for her friends at Alexandria? Here\'s how Maggie replies:
"The decision was made a long time ago, before any of us knew each other. We were all strangers who would\'ve just passed each other on the street before the world ended. Now we mean everything to each other.
You were in trouble. You were trapped. Glenn didn\'t know you, but he helped you. He put himself in danger for you, and that started it all. From Atlanta to my daddy\'s farm to the prison to here...to this moment now, not as strangers, as family. Because Glenn chose to be there for you that day a long time ago - that was the decision that changed everything. It started with both of you and it just grew to all of us. to sacrifice for each other...to suffer and stand, to grieve, to give, to love, to live to fight for each other... Glenn made the decision, Rick. I was just followin\' his lead."
Although that little speech is crescendoed with a cymbal crash that would make the dinosaurs in
blush, you have to admit, it\'s a stirring piece of dialogue. Lauren Cohan also deserves credit for her steely rendition.
was able to draw a straight dramatic line from the story\'s worst moment in episode one this season to the here and now. Maggie was a constant reminder of Glenn all year and, in her most crucial moment, she relied on him to make a hard decision. It never felt like he was fully gone.
The speech also beautifully sums up what Glenn means to
. She\'s right. He did save Rick in that tank and start the entire chain of events that we\'ve witnessed these past eight years. Saving Rick "changed everything" and gave the Survivors a way to live. Save someone. Save anyone. Do it for someone else. Sacrifice yourself. Sasha knew it. Glenn knew living any other way wasn\'t living at all and the world might as well burn otherwise. Maggie knows it too and so does the show. That\'s why guys like Negan may come and go, but Glenn will always be the heart of
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I'm a Senior Associate Editor at Zimbio. I specialize in film, Game of Thrones, Netflix and the novels of Susan Sontag. Follow me: Google
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